I love the underwater theme on this cover. Especially the little details, like the mermaid tail on the a in Sea. I'm looking forward to reading this book when it's out.
ABOUT THE BOOK
By: Joanna Ruth Meyer
Published by: Page Street
To Be Released on: January 9th, 2018
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Can’t You Hear It, Talia?
Can’t You Hear the Waves Singing?
Sixteen-year-old Talia was born to a life of certainty and luxury, destined to become Empress of half the world. But when an ambitious rival seizes power, she and her mother are banished to a nowhere province on the far edge of the Northern Sea.
It is here, in the drafty halls of Ruen-Dahr, that Talia discovers family secrets, a melancholy boy who suffers from troubling visions of her future, and a mysterious jar of starlight. On these shores, the eerie melody of the sea is stronger than ever, unearthing long-buried tales of the Goddess Rahn. The more dark truths that she exposes about the gods’ history—and her own—the more the waves call to her, and it may be her destiny to answer.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
JOANNA RUTH MEYER lives with her dear husband and son in Arizona, where it never rains (or at least not often enough for her!). When she’s not writing, she can be found teaching piano lessons, drinking copious amounts of tea, reading thick books, and dreaming of winter. Visit her at joannaruthmeyer.com, and follow her on Twitter @gamwyn.
READ AN EXCERPT
Talia was fast asleep in the cabin belowdecks when the storm came. She started awake to the violent tilting of the floor beneath her and waves slamming against the sides of the ship, so hard she thought it might break apart. She climbed out of bed to look through the porthole, but the ship jerked her backwards and sideways, throwing her in a heap against her mother’s bunk. Somehow, her mother slept on.
She fought her way to her feet again, grabbing the edge of the porthole and digging her fingers into the wood around it. She peered through the glass.
The black sea leapt at the ship, clawing to get in. A flash of light exploded over the water, followed by a near-deafening crack of thunder. The vessel seemed to shake—the world seemed to shake.
She couldn’t help but think of her mother’s gods, and the stories she used to tell about them: Tuer of the mountain and Raiva of the trees. Mahl and Ahdairon, Lord and Lady of the air. Uerc of the beasts and Huen of the earth. Caida of the stars and Hald of the rivers. Aigir of the sea.
Watching the storm through the porthole, she could almost believe the stories were true. She was struck by her own helplessness, caught in the middle of the vast ocean at the mercy of the waves, or maybe even the gods.
Another flash of lightning, another crrrrrrraaaack of thunder. A wave hit the ship so hard it tipped sideways, throwing Talia against the door. Her bare foot caught on something sharp and she hissed in pain. The next moment she was tossed back towards the porthole. She touched it with one hand, and the icy coldness of the glass shot through her.
And then she saw something out there in the storm: a huge shape gleaming in the rain. Her thoughts tangled with images of sea monsters or gods come suddenly to life. She and her mother could die tonight. Drown in the black sea amidst the splintered remains of the ship.
Lightning slashed across the sky, illuminating the world for an instant, and there it was: a whale, nearly the size of the ship, swimming beside them in the storm. She stared, transfixed. Thunder crashed overhead, and once more the ship lurched crazily, tipping her away from the porthole.
Her mother awoke as the ship tipped again, and the porthole was suddenly on the ceiling. “Talia!”
“Here.” She grabbed her mother’s hand in the dark, alarmed at the terror in her voice.
Her mother wept, sobs wracking her entire body and Talia clung to her, desperate to calm her down. The ship shuddered around them and the lightning roared. Any moment now Talia thought the vessel would break apart and they would all be devoured by the sea.
“She’s angry. She can feel us here and she’s so angry.”
Her mother’s words frightened Talia more than the storm. “What are you talking about?”
Another wave hit, knocking them both onto the floor. Talia heard something snap, and her mother screamed.
Her mother screamed again. She couldn’t seem to stop.
Talia wrestled to her feet, scrabbling in her pocket for a packet of matches. She lit the lamp on the ceiling. Orange light spun through the cabin, illuminating her mother writhing on the floor with tears streaking down her cheeks. Her right wrist was bent almost entirely backwards against her arm.
Talia ran out into the storm to get the Captain.
Her mother wouldn’t stop screaming.
Captain Oblaine came bolting down to their tiny cabin, hard on Talia’s heels, and lifted her mother back into the bunk, careful not to knock her broken wrist.
“She’s so angry!” her mother cried, writhing in the Captain’s grasp. “She’ll kill us all!”
The storm lashed the ship from side to side and lightning flared outside the porthole. Her mother kept screaming.
The Captain pinned her into the bunk while Talia watched, helpless and horrified.
“Find Hanid!” the Captain barked. “Ask him for the medical kit!”
And then Talia was running back up to the main deck, wrestling against the clawing wind and icy rain, shouting Hanid’s name.
The ship lurched starboard, and Hanid was there, grasping her elbow.
She shouted into his ear so he could hear her: “My mother’s hurt! We need the medical kit!”
He squeezed her arm and was gone, sliding across the deck.
She clung to a rope lashed about the main mast to keep herself upright and waited for him: one heartbeat. Two. Sailors swarmed the deck like frantic insects, hauling lines and trimming sails and fighting to keep the ship afloat. Their shouts and curses tangled with the memory of her mother’s screams.
She counted to twelve and Hanid was back, lugging a large leather box with him. He pressed it into her arms. “Gods keep you!” he cried, then turned back to help his men.
Talia scrambled with the box back down into the hold, and Captain Oblaine took it from her, drawing out bandages and a glass bottle.
“She’ll kill us all!” gasped her mother, over and over. Sweat and tears poured down her face.
Oblaine uncorked the bottle and held it to her mother’s lips. “Drink.”
She did, coughing as she swallowed, her whole body trembling.
“What is that?” Talia demanded, kneeling on the floor beside him.
“Opium. It will ease her pain and calm her. Help her sleep through the night.”
Sure enough her mother lay quiet now, her breathing steady again. The Captain bandaged her wrist with quiet efficiency.
He shook his head, his eyes finding Talia’s. “Gods only know why I agreed to this commission. Catastrophe follows you.”
“Why did you?”
He considered her. “It wasn’t just for the money, if that’s what you’re thinking. If my daughter were here in your place, I would want someone to watch over her. Keep her safe.”
She glanced at her mother’s form in the bed, chest rising and falling in a steady rhythm. Her throat felt tight. “Thank you.”
Oblaine nodded. “Call me if you need anything else.”
He took the medical kit and went back up into the storm.
Talia stayed kneeling by her mother’s bed, shuddering as the waves beat hard against the ship, trying to get in, trying to break them to pieces.
She fell asleep without meaning to, and woke with the morning to find that the storm had passed, and the sea once more ran calm.
Her mother woke, too, and her dark eyes were glassy with fever.
The Captain examined her mother, feeling her pulse and checking the bandage on her wrist. “Nothing to worry about,” he told Talia gently. “It’s just a fever, and will pass soon enough.”
But Talia knew better. Her mother was stronger than the Emperor and obdurate as a mountain. A mere fever would never incapacitate her like this.
She crouched by the bunk, taking her mother’s good hand in her own and tenderly kissing her forehead. “Are you in pain, Mama?”
Tears leaked down her mother’s cheeks. “The sea goddess saw us,” she whispered. “She looked up from her Hall and saw us passing through her waters. So she sent a storm to break the ship, to snatch our souls down into her darkness. She’ll kill us. She’ll kill us!”
“Lie still, Mama,” said Talia soothingly. “It was just a dream. We’re safe now, the storm is over. Your wrist will heal, and we’ll be together in Ryn very soon.”
Her mother shuddered, eyes frantic. “She’ll try again. She won’t stop until she’s satisfied! I have to go up. I have to watch the sea. I have to protect you!”
She tried to get out of bed, but Talia pressed her gently back onto the pillow. “Later, Mama. We can watch later. Sleep now.”
And her mother sighed and shut her eyes. She fell into a fitful sleep, twisting in the bunk, sweat glistening on her forehead.
The day slipped slowly away, and her mother slid in and out of fretful dreams, writhing in the sheets, mumbling and crying in her sleep. Talia sat with her, holding her hand and wiping the sweat from her forehead. She pleaded with the gods she didn’t believe in: You took my father from me. You can’t have my mother, too.
Hanid came to see her in the midafternoon, carrying a battered tea tray. He set it on the floor under the porthole, and Talia’s mouth watered at the scent of roasted pork, even though she didn’t feel particularly hungry.
“How is she?”
Talia shook her head. “Sleeping, now. She keeps—she keeps talking about a sea goddess.”
Hanid grabbed a bottle from off the tea tray—more opium—and uncorked it.
Her mother rustled uneasily in the tiny bunk, and Hanid tipped a few drops of the drug into her mouth. She swallowed automatically, and lay quieter.
“I wish you wouldn’t do that,” said Talia, eyeing the bottle with distaste.
“She’ll do herself a harm, Miss Dahl-Saida. She needs to lay still.”
Talia sat back against the side of the ship, and took a plate of pork from the tray. She cut off a few bites and chewed, slowly. The meat was tasteless to her. “What’s wrong with my mother?”
Hanid crouched on the floor across from her. “I think the sea is making her ill.”
“She’s not seasick,” Talia objected.
“I didn’t say she was.”
Talia laid her plate down. “She keeps insisting the sea goddess is going to kill us, but in the stories… I thought it was Aigir who ruled the sea. Who is she talking about?”
“Rahn,” said Hanid, black eyes meeting hers. “She tricked Aigir and took his throne. She collects all the souls of the drowned in her Hall at the bottom of the ocean.”
Talia suppressed a shudder. “Lovely.”
“Most sailors fear her on long voyages like this one.”
“And you don’t?”
Hanid shrugged. “She’s just one goddess. I’m of the belief that the sea still protects Aigir’s own. And the wind gods can be persuaded to kindness.”
“Then you really do believe in the old stories.”
His lips lifted in a half-smile. “Are you telling me you don’t believe in anything at all, Miss Dahl-Saida?”
She winced. Suddenly she was eleven again, hearing her mother explain to her that her father had had an accident on the road. That he wasn’t coming home. “If you believe in the gods, you believe in fate. I refuse to accept the philosophy that any part of my life is outside of my control. People spin those stories to try and make sense out of their own existence—I do fine on my own.”
Hanid chuckled. “Says the girl banished from her homeland through no doing of her own.”
“You think the gods brought me here?”
“I think you are limiting yourself to a rather narrow view of the world.”
She ground her jaw. “Then you think the gods meant this for my mother?”
“I don’t know. But there is certainly more going on with her—with both of you—than either of us understands.”
Talia didn’t answer.
Hanid gave her a quiet smile. “Don’t despair, Miss Dahl-Saida. She will be well again, I think.”
And then he bowed and left the cabin.
Talia hugged her knees to her chest and screwed her eyes shut. You took my father from me. You can’t have my mother, too.
You can’t have her.
The waves slapped against the side of the ship, and for a moment she thought she heard a thread of music curling out of the sea.